CMLL Homenaje a Dos Leyendas on March 17, 2017
Arena México – Mexico City, Mexico
Every year in its mid-March event, Homenaje a Dos Leyendas (“Homage to Two Legends”), CMLL honors its founder Salvador Lutteroth and another legendary figure in lucha that varies from year to year. This year, that second figure is Villano III, and CMLL has emphasized that this year’s Homenaje a Dos Leyendas is taking place exactly 17 years after the famed mask match between Atlantis and Villano III. I’ll save my commentary on that for later, to avoid a long diatribe in the introduction, but keep in mind that this callback to that match has been a major selling point in CMLL’s eyes. In fact, Leo Magadán reminds the live crowd of this at the open of the show. With that context out of the way, let’s get to the actual action.
Princesa Sugheit, Marcela, Estrellita vs. Zeuxis, Amapola, Tiffanybelow average
[6:35, 3:16, 3:14] This match is already infamous for a third-fall Estrellita botch in which she slips and crashes hard to the floor while preparing to do a dive, but even discounting that scary moment, there are plenty of awkward spots in this match. As my wife @conjuarez pointed out while watching, there’s a spot in the second fall in which Estrellita takes a senton from Amapola against the ropes, but instead of draping her arms over the ropes normally, he holds the ropes with her hands in front of her collarbone. That’s asking for a anatomical catastrophe to happen.
Even the historically less sloppy luchadoras have some issues, particularly early on: Amapola has a spear in the first fall that’s so half-hearted that it resembles me plopping into bed more than it does an actual move. At another point soon after, Princesa Sugheit runs to the wrong side of Zeuxis for her headscissors spot, only to have to awkwardly run back to the ropes and retry the spot from the correct side.
On the bright side, Zeuxis is on point with execution throughout this match, though, and she has a cool mask in honor of Negro Navarro, her maestro. Unfortunately, it isn’t nearly enough to offset the bad parts of this match. The third-fall finish comes when Zeuxis suddenly pulls Princesa Sugheit’s mask for the DQ.
Dragon Lee, Titán, Stuka Jr. vs. Euforia, Gran Guerrero, Niebla Rojagreat
[3:22, 2:41, 6:00] This is easily the best match on the card. Highlights include Dragon Lee and Niebla Roja feuding (and trading cartwheels out of headscissors in the first fall!), Titán doing Titán things, Stuka Jr. getting into the craziness with a plancha from the turnbuckle to the ramp, and the rudos catching topes con giro to counter them into powerbombs.
— CMLL Lucha Libre (@CMLL_OFICIAL) March 18, 2017
Aside from those, there’s a particularly great sequence toward the end of the third fall in which Titán sets up Niebla Roja on the apron in order to be headscissored by Dragon Lee in one of his trademark spots. There’s plenty more to like about this match, but suffice it to say that this is a really fun match that definitely feels like a big-show trios match in which everyone contributes and works well, even more so than the Sky Team match later on the card.
Carístico, Atlantis, Marco Corleone vs. Rush, La Máscara, Kráneook+
[2:05, 6:06] This is a short match decided in straight falls, and the second fall technically ends with a countout (after one non-captain is eliminated). There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with this match, but neither is there much noteworthy other than the palpable animosity between Atlantis and Rush, possibly foreshadowing a future mask vs. hair match, and Los Ingobernables cheating to pin Marco in the second fall.
Otherwise, in terms of action, this match feels like a standard match that might occur on a random Tuesday show.
NWA Historic Middleweight Championship Match: Matt Taven vs. Último Guerrero (c)good
[4:56, 2:13, 9:51] The respective seconds for this match are Marco Corleone and Gran Guerrero. Matt Taven is the nominal técnico, as had been made clear in press coverage leading up to the event. But the match is framed as Mexico vs. United States, so of course Último Guerrero serves as the de facto técnico. Insert shrug emoticon.
In any event, this feels like a mostly standard Último Guerrero match, with the usual result stemming from the usual finishers, except that the first fall is a bit longer, and Matt Taven throws in some faux delay tactics at the start of the second fall (which has roughly a minute of actual action, not unusual for big CMLL matches). You might go a bit higher with the rating if you like the Último Guerrero modus operandi more than I do; the crowd apparently enjoyed this enough to throw money. I wouldn’t have done so.
CMLL Trios Championship Match: Místico, Volador Jr., Valiente (c) vs. Mephisto, Luciferno, Hechicerovery good
[2:45, 2:42, 11:54] The defending Sky Team has matching camouflage gear, apparently going for a paratrooper military look, although my wife was more confused than anything else, laughing at the apparent randomness. (To be honest, I think my initial reaction, betraying my bias, was that the gear was largely reminiscent of Flamita’s Tribe Vanguard look.) On the opposing side, Mephisto has a cool Villano III tribute mask.
Sky Team trios matches tend to be pretty fun on average. This one is no exception, but it feels as if there’s some missed potential here. The Sky Team as a trio doesn’t get to work with Hechicero (substituting here for the injured Ephesto) all that often, and that’s a shame; there’s a crazy spot in the first fall in which Hechicero catches a moonsault by Místico and proceeds to forcefully introduce his opponent to the ringpost. On the other hand, there are a couple of awkward spots with Místico, including an assisted headscissors to the outside that nearly misses and ends up barely being more like a weird bodyscissors.
There’s also a weird moment late in the third fall in which the técnicos have the star submission set up, with Hechicero in a tapatía in the middle. Hechicero submits, and the lights guy takes this to be the end of the fall, since it sometimes is in a regular match. But in reality, the other rudos haven’t given up, and the fall continues. It’s not something for which blame can be assigned to anyone in the ring, but I thought that I’d point out this odd production issue.
Again, there are the typical Sky Team spots in this match, and Hechicero is fun as usual, but the champions have had crisper defenses, so this one ends up being mildly disappointing by their standards. Hopefully at some point they’ll have another opportunity to have a better title match with Hechicero involved.
Before the main event, a very emotional Villano III comes out with his children for the formal Homenaje a Dos Leyendas ceremony. Afterward, the VOD has a video package looking back at his career, although the live Arena México crowd got a dance from the edecanes.
Mask vs. Mask: Diamante Azul vs. Pierrothbad
[0:49, 2:22, 9:24] In an apparent attempt to artificially create pomp and circumstance for this match, Pierroth literally has a red carpet rolled out for his entrance. La Máscara and Rush are also present, although it’s Rush who’s the “official” second. Diamante Azul’s second is Máximo Sexy.
Pierroth takes a very quick fall 1 with a bad bodyslam and a senton from the second rope. In other words, he has essentially one thing to do in the 49 seconds of the first fall and manages to do it poorly.
The second fall features really bad punches from Pierroth, interference from Rush while Tirantes is distracted from arguing with Máximo, and Pierroth hilariously interrupting Tirantes’s argument with Máximo in order to apparently raise some other point of contention. (Here I’m reminded of one of Judge Judy’s admonitions, “Shut up! Does it look like you’re losing?”) After some more laughably bad offense from Pierroth, Diamante Azul manages to win a fall when Pierroth suddenly unmasks him for a DQ. Crowd shots in between falls indicate reactions ranging from indifference to displeasure.
The third fall sees Pierroth add inability to catch dives to the list of flaws on full display in a packed Arena México. Actually, at one point early in the fall, Diamante Azul topes Rush instead of Pierroth. The latter is completely uninterested that this has just happened and walks away to talk to someone at the far end of the first row. Other spots attempted and failed include a suplex and a salida de bandera bump. For his part, Diamante Azul cannot pull off a remotely convincing bodyslam, although he’s decidedly the less bad of the two. After more interference and a mass run-in involving La Máscara, Terrible, and Marco Corleone, Rambo (the lucha commissioner on duty) kicks out all seconds, upon which Diamante Azul immediately wins with a German suplex.
As the crowd boos, Pierroth unmasks as Arturo Muñoz, 47 years old, 26 as a luchador. (There are doubts about the accuracy of the age, although, as @luchablog has pointed out, it’s consistent with the age announced when he last lost his mask as Poder Mexica in 2002, for whatever that may or may not be worth.) Pierroth attacks and unmasks Diamante Azul afterward. Another referee, Edgar Noriega, runs out to try to restore order, but fails, giving the feeling of a hollow victory. Although Diamante Azul recovers his mask eventually and Edgar Noriega (not the original referee, Tirantes) raises his arm in victory after Pierroth and the Ingobernables leave, this has the markings of an afterthought rather than a true conclusion.
With apologies to Futurama, this match is bad and CMLL should feel bad. It doesn’t feel so much like a proper mask match as a parody of one. This match really has no business taking place at all, let alone on CMLL’s second-biggest show of the year. We knew this from the time that it was announced; neither guy in the match is really a capable luchador despite years of experience. Really basic spots are botched, and Pierroth still carries his trademark aversion to having anything to do with catching a dive despite 26 years in the business.
As I mentioned at the opening of the review, CMLL pushed this show hard as the 17th anniversary of Villano III’s famous mask match with Atlantis, arguably one of the best of all time. The implied inference that CMLL wants its audience to reach is that this year’s show is likewise headlined by a match that will go down in history. In a sense, they accomplished their goal, although perhaps not in the way that they intended: this mask match is memorably grotesque and incompetent.
CMLL HOMENAJE A DOS LEYENDAS ON MARCH 17, 2017
Decent - 6/10
The show opens and closes with clunkers, but the stuff in the middle justifies US $3 for the VOD. The guys in the segunda work a really good big-show match, and the Sky Team match has enough fun moments.